Head Start Bureau Announces Extension for Transportation Regulations

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WASHINGTON, DC (January 16, 2004) – With only four days left until a January 20 deadline, the Head Start Bureau announced an interim final rule extending the requirement that Head Start children be transported in buses equipped with child safety restraint systems and that each vehicle have a bus monitor on board.

Alarmed over the prospect that “some earlier assumptions about possible options for implementing this regulation may have not been entirely correct,” the Bureau extended implementation of the child safety restraint and bus monitor provisions 150 days. The Bureau cited concerns that the January 20 deadline could lead to reductions in transportation service, especially among coordinated transportation providers such as school districts that often provide transportation to Head Start grantees at low or no cost.

The child safety restraint and bus monitor provisions of the regulation were set to take effect January 20, 2004. Citing concerns the regulation may force children off buses and into cars, and that coordinated transportation service provided by school districts may be curtailed, the Bureau decided to extend the rule by 150 days. The Secretary of Health and Human Services announced today that Head Start programs will have until June 21, 2004 to put in place new transportation safety requirements for Head Start students.

“Many school systems, and other transportation providers, forced to conform to the requirements of child restraint systems and monitors have indicated they will discontinue transportation service for Head Start children,” according to the Interim Final Rule. “This will not only diminish Head Start’s ability to engage as a community player with other local organizations but will result in many Head Start grantees choosing to discontinue the provision of transportation services, as such services are not mandated.”

Under the interim regulation, grantees are may also request an extension to not later than January 18, 2006 to fully comply with the safety seat and bus monitor requirements. Grantees must submit an application requesting additional time by March 1, 2004. Grantees would have to demonstrate that this extension is in the best interests of the Head Start children.

Click here to read the Interim Final Rule in its entirety. Click on the blue arrow below to comment on these changes.